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31st October 2018

URGENT: SRE Consultation – Take a Stand Against the Government’s Undermining of Parental Responsibility

Make your voice heard today

 

Background to the Consultation

In March 2017, the Government passed the Children & Social Work Act (2017) which resulted in the creation of a new compulsory subject in all primary schools – Relationships Education (RE), as well as a new statutory subject in secondary schools called Relationships & Sex Education (RSE). Following the consultation, it was announced that the new content delivered in RE (primary) and RSE (secondary) would be subject to public consultation.

In December 2017 the Department for Education opened their public ‘Call for Evidence’ to consult on the content of these new subjects. The public consultation closed in February 2018 and received over 23,000 submissions.

In July 2018 the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP, announced the publication of its Draft Guidance on the content and delivery of the new subjects. He also announced a change in policy regarding the Government’s previously stated intention to retain parents’ right to withdraw their children from the ‘sex education’ aspects of RSE (see below). In addition to this, he announced that rather than making PSHE compulsory, the Government was instead creating a third new compulsory subject, Health Education, which would be taught in both primary and secondary schools.

Most recently, the Government announced a public consultation on the content of the new Draft Guidance, which closes on 7th November 2018. It further announced that this guidance and the obligation to deliver the new subjects would now come into force in September 2020 (rather than September 2019 as previously planned).

Please make your submission online at:

Consultation

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 7th November.

Although many of us are rightfully sceptical of government-initiated consultations, as the government often launches consultations to evidence its pre-agreed findings. We believe this consultation, which many of us took part in, had a unique impact.

Also Read: Sex Education SRE Consultation: Last chance to make a difference for background about the changes announced in the run up to the last consultation in Februrary 2018.

Firstly, the consultation received an unprecedented 23,000 submissions (18,000 online and a further 4,500 letters and emails). The vast majority of responses were from parents. There have been calls for the Government to publish a full report and breakdown of responses, something which is in the interests of transparency, yet the government has failed to publish the results. In its place a brief summary of the online submissions (78% or 18,000 of them) has been published by Ipsos Mori (as an annex to the consultation document).
The 4,500 submissions made by email and post (representing 22% of the total submissions) have so far not been reported at all. However, even the small number of results the Government has so far published feature some significant insights into the strength of feeling against the Government’s LGBT and sex education agenda, in favour of a more pro-life and pro-family ethos. There are signs that the Government cannot ignore the strength of feeling of respondents.

Primary Schools
The Government has conceded that teaching LGBT ideology to primary school children is contentious and that there is far from agreement in favour of it. The government alludes to the ‘many’ (without quantifying the percentage of respondents) that wanted the new subjects to “raise awareness of different types of family”. They also admit that ‘opinions were also split regarding when children should be taught about LGBT relationships’. They admitted that only “a small proportion of respondents suggest that primary schools should teach about gender and sexual identity, but this was a controversial viewpoint with others disagreeing that it is appropriate to teach about these issues at primary school”.

The results of the consultation also reveal that “opinions were split […] as to whether it is appropriate to teach any subjects related to sex education at primary school”.

It is further noted that “where respondents support this, consent education (1,408, 9%) is the most widely supported subject area”.

The alleged need for all primary school children to learn urgently about ‘consent’ as a preventative measure against child abuse has been one of the primary justifications for compulsory Relationships Education. This result shows that only a small minority, even of those who wanted any kind of sex education at primary school, thought that this was important.

This document states,

“When asked the most important subject areas to be taught in Relationships Education at primary school, the most frequently mentioned is relationships with family (7,778, 52%), including building strong relationships with family members and awareness of different family compositions. It is likely that the volume of responses on family compositions is driven by ‘campaign’ responses.”

It is encouraging that a large number have attempted to turn Relationships Education into something more positive by stressing the importance of family life. However, the report suggests that the LGBT lobby has also been campaigning to introduce the idea of ‘diversity’ of families to children, as a way of introducing young children to the LGBT lifestyle. It is not specified what proportion of those lobbying for family education favoured this kind of approach.

Secondary Schools

We should be encouraged by the fact that the most common response by adult respondents to what ‘the most important subject areas to be taught in Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) at secondary school, is commitment (5,746, 39%), with an emphasis on traditional marriage. It is likely that the volume of responses on commitment is
driven by ‘campaign’ responses’.

Successive governments have always sought to use the term ‘campaign responses’, to undermine responses that do not align with both its narrative around a policy area and what it intends to implement. By using this term, they question the authenticity of opinion by alluding to campaigns influencing people to respond in particular way. This cannot take away from the strength of feeling that the current proposals are an assault on the values of vast sections of the population who want a more traditional understanding of marriage taught to children.

From what we can see of the responses alluded to by the government, there is no majority consensus on what should be covered within RSE in secondary schools.

Thirty five percent of adults who participated in the consultation thought teaching of ‘respect’ was important, (5,174, 35%), 36% suggested sexual health (5,332, 36%), 18% sexual consent (2,721, 18%).

Of young people responding to the consultation (representing 13% of overall respondents), only 31% (668) favoured teaching about gender and sexual
identity.

Even if there were a majority in favour of any particular approach or subject to be covered in RSE then the Government is not revealing what it is. Either way they have no basis on which to claim there was any ‘consensus’ in the consultation in favour of the approach that they are taking in the draft guidance.

Because this summary does not include the 4,500 (22%) of total responses made by
email or post these findings are also skewed and unreliable.

Even if we were to take the responses the government has selectively provided, there is no support in favour of LGBT teaching but there is a large proportion in favour of teaching about family and normative marriage.

There are a number of positive supporting statements in the government’s consultation response which point to the impact our submissions made at the last call for evidence.

The government reiterates the right of parents as the primary educators of their children,

“We recognise that parents are the primary educators of their children, particularly where relationships and sex are concerned, and want to ensure that schools work with parents on the design and delivery of these subjects. Schools will be required to consult with parents on their Relationships Education and RSE policies, which will minimise any misconception about the subjects and enable parents to decide whether to request that their child is withdrawn from sex education.”

The government has disappointingly watered down the right of parents to withdraw from RSE in secondary schools, the government assures us that parents “may request that their child be withdrawn from some or all elements of sex education in RSE and this should be granted unless the headteacher, taking into account any considerations about the pupil and their circumstances, decides otherwise.”

The government further clarifies that,

“except in exceptional circumstances, the school should respect the parents’ request to withdraw the child, up to and until three terms before the child turns 16.”

So the right to withdraw has been severely watered down.

We are also assured that:

“Secondary schools should engage proactively with parents”

“set out how and when they plan to cover topics included in RSE so that parents can understand clearly, what is going to be taught.”

Existing guidance also mandates that schools consult parents regarding the content, yet experience shows that this is not happening. Although the Government claims that schools, including faith schools, will have ‘flexibility’ in how they teach these new subjects, including coverage of LGBT issues, this will be within the parameters of what the Secretary of State and OFSTED regard as compliance with ‘the relevant provisions of the Equality Act’.

Please make your submission online at:

Although there are many points to be made, in summary I believe the following issues capture the main criticisms of the changes to the draft guidance.

1. It is unacceptable that the government has refused to allow parents to withdraw from Relationship Education at primary level.

2. It is disappointing that the government has failed to provide any assurances that SRE/statutory science related topics will not be included in RE classes, neither has it clearly clarified in detail what will be taught in RE.

3. The government has gone back on its own commitment to provide a legal right to withdrawal from RSE classes at secondary level. Instead it has given head teachers the right to veto parental requests to withdraw. This completely contradicts the legal position of parents as the primary educator of their children.

4. The draft guidance is hugely vague and allows teachers to interpret its requirements. This places parents in a subordinate position, to accept the changes schools are willing to make.

5. It undermines the right of parents to decide when and how to impart sensitive information around sexual matters to their children.

6. It normalises LGBTQ relationships to children.

7. It encourages children to experiment with and question their biological sex under the gender agenda.

8. Schools must engage in real and not make-believe consultation with parents. Parental views must be taken into account when making decisions, in relation to the resources, how it is taught, which organisations comes in to help deliver programmes etc.

9. Schools have to be mandated to communicate with parents about when, how and what is being taught to their children in SRE, RE, RSE, health education and statutory science elements of ‘sex education’.

Guidance on anwering Questions

– Please answer in your own words, otherwise your response may be ignored as a ‘campaign response’.

– For each question, you are asked to rate how strongly you agree / disagree with the
proposed content. If there is any concerns over the framing of the questions it is best to choose ‘strongly disagree’, or at least ‘disagree’, as your response — even if you agree with the rest of the points in that section.

Questions 1-9 ask for your name, religion, ethnic group, the capacity you are responding etc.

10. Do you agree that the content of Relationships Education in paragraphs 50-57 of the guidance is age-appropriate for primary school pupils?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

Please briefly explain why you have given this answer in the text box below.

The section referred to can be found in the draft guidance, and an example of the paragraph referred to in this question is below.

“Teaching about families requires sensitive and well-judged teaching based on
knowledge of pupils and their circumstances. Families of many forms provide a
nurturing environment for children. Care needs to be taken to ensure that there is
no stigmatisation of children based on their home circumstances and needs, to
reflect sensitively that some children may have a different structure of support
around them, e.g. looked after children or young carers.” (paragraph 55)

Although this may read as innocuous and a common-sense approach to teaching, the paragraph is vague and given the context in which these changes to SRE (Sex and Relationships Education) are justified, it is clear that we are being asked to agree to a statement that will be used, amongst other things, to normalise LGBT relationships to our children.

We should speak about the primacy of parents as educators of their children. We raise and teach our children according to our values, and we cannot accept teaching them that a relationship between a man and a man or a woman and a woman (a legally recognised marriage), and raising children based on that relationship, are on par with a marital relationship of a man and a woman raising children. Doing so fundamentally undermines our right to raise our children according to our own values.

– Please note this paragraph relates to the teaching of primary children (5-11).

– Parents are best placed to determine what is age-appropriate for their own children.

– Discussing LGBT families necessitates speaking about LGBT relationships, we believe primary aged children should not be exposed to sexual discussions of any kind.

– Parents should be the ones to decide when it is appropriate to raise these discussions with their children and their hand should not be forced by what is taught to them at school, as this dictates when and how these discussions should happen.

– The guidance needs to be clear that LGBT relationships, transgender issues, pornography, contraception, sexually transmitted infections/diseases and abortion will not be discussed at primary level.

– Much of the language within these sections is vague and ambiguous, as a consequence parents will be concerned that they can be interpreted very broadly, given this concern, parents should be allowed to withdraw from Relationships Education.

11. Do you agree that the content of Relationships Education as set out in
paragraphs 50-57 of the guidance will provide primary school pupils with sufficient
knowledge to help them have positive relationships?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

Although we believe everyone deserves to be treated respectfully and kindly, there is a huge difference between respect towards different people, no one should be taught to agree with relationships which profoundly opposes one’s moral values. So although we would agree that the person who lives with someone else outside of marriage or a man who lives with a man or a woman who lives with a woman are people our children may encounter, it does not mean they should be taught these are morally acceptable relationships, as that goes against the moral values we wish to inculcate in our children, and doing so is partaking in the social engineering of our children, something we do not consent to schools doing.

Children need to be taught that bullying any other child is wholly unacceptable for any characteristic, whether that be on account of race, religion, class, bodily characteristics or home life. But this should not be used to push acceptance of LGBTQ lifestyles.

There is also scope for discussing the absence of other relationships in the guidance, such as with parents, siblings, extended families and the importance of marriage, which is still the gold standard institution in raising and nurturing children.

12 Do you agree that paragraphs 61-64 clearly set out the requirements on
primary schools who choose to teach sex education?

It is unclear from the guidance, what the difference is between SRE currently taught at primary level, and RE, which is planned to be taught from September 2020? There needs to be a clearer distinction so that parents are better informed of what their children are being taught and so that schools do not teach beyond what they are required to and package that as statutory. As parents will not have a right to withdraw from RE (which is a huge mistake), it is all the more important for both schools and parents to know what is statutory and what is not.

We should push for the government to allow parents the right to withdraw from SRE classes at primary level. Schools should not include non-statutory SRE teaching in science or the new RE classes, Ofsted needs to inspect schools to ensure this is not happening including speaking to parents. Schools should publish their consultation process so that it is transparent and they should have to publish how they have consulted parents in deciding how SRE is taught at primary level. They should also write to parents a term before they start teaching sex education, informing them they have a legal right to withdraw.

The draft guidance suggests,

Schools must also ensure that their teaching and materials are appropriate having regard to the age and religious backgrounds of their pupils.

This has been included in SRE guidance for many years, but it is not happening everywhere. The religious background of pupils is not considered when deciding how to teach SRE. More needs to be done to ensure these are not mere words on paper but are also applied in practice.

The guidance clearly accepts that there are developmental differences in children, this is one of the main reasons why a one size fits all teaching of SRE is not effective. Parents ought to be empowered to teach their children in line with their values rather than schools taking over this role.

13. Do you agree that the content of RSE in paragraphs 65-77 of the guidance is
age-appropriate for secondary school pupils?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

Who will decide what is age-appropriate? As parents are the primary educators of their children, it should be parents. Age-appropriateness is built on many factors including the actual age of the child, their developmental level, and their faith background (their values and upbringing). Who will ensure that these broad set of criteria are factored into what is being taught?

The guidance tackles sexual identity and gender fluidity as though they are innate or fixed. For young people getting to grips with who they are, and being bombarded with confusing messages about gender and sexual preference, this can cause a lot of confusion. Some young people may develop same-sex attraction which they will grow out of, by addressing sexuality as fixed, it can encourage the affirmation of that identity, something they are likely to grow out of.

14. Do you agree that the content of RSE as set out in paragraphs 65-77 of the
guidance will provide secondary school pupils with sufficient knowledge to help
them have positive relationships?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

The range of relationships mentioned will ultimately cloud the waters as to the importance of marriage (between a man and a woman) which research suggests brings overwhelmingly positive results to children as it creates stability, that other relationships fail to provide children.

There is no evidence suggesting co-habiting or homosexual relationships provide the stability and positive outcomes that a traditional family unit does. In fact, there is evidence showing negative outcomes.

Schools should not be encouraging children to experiment with their gender ‘identity’.

Parents should be allowed to bring their children up according to their values, this may sometimes look different to the values the government expects, but if parents are the primary educators of their children and we have the freedom to raise our children within the boundaries of our faith values, and within the ambit of the law, there is no problem.

15. Do you agree that paragraphs 36-46 on the right to withdraw provide
sufficient clarity and advice to schools in order for them to meet the legal
requirements?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

Parents had been promised that they would have the right of withdrawal from RSE in secondary schools, but this has been effectively taken away and this right has been effectively placed at the discretion of the head teacher. What happens if the head teacher refuses? Does the HT have to provide a reason? Can the parent appeal? Who to?

Again, the distinction between SRE and RSE in secondary schools is not clarified, so that parents can know which aspects they are allowed to ‘request’ withdrawal from.

This has to be clarified by the guidance and schools have to be transparent as to what they teach and where, whether in SRE, Science or RSE.

16. Do you agree that the content of physical health and wellbeing education in paragraphs 86-92 of the guidance is age-appropriate for primary school pupils?

Please answer as you see fit.

17.Do you agree that the content of physical health and wellbeing education as set out in paragraphs 86-92 of the guidance will provide primary school pupils with sufficient knowledge to help them lead a healthy lifestyle?

Please answer as you see fit.

18.Do you agree that the content of physical health and wellbeing education in paragraphs 93-99 of the guidance is age-appropriate for secondary school pupils?

Please answer as you see fit.

19.Do you agree that the content of physical health and wellbeing education as set out in paragraphs 93-99 of the guidance will provide secondary school pupils with sufficient knowledge to help them lead a healthy lifestyle?

Please answer as you see fit.

20. Do you agree with the approach outlined in paragraphs 36-46 on how schools should engage with parents on the subjects?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

Please reiterate that you are disappointed that the ‘right’ of withdrawal has been downgraded to a ‘request’ judged by the discretion of the head teacher.

21. Paragraphs 108-109 in the guidance describe the flexibility that schools
would have to determine how they teach the content of their Relationships
Education/RSE/Health Education. Do you agree with the outlined approach?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

There has to be a balance between clear guidance and flexibility for schools to formulate RE/RSE/Health Education to cater to the reality of the school. This flexibility has to be real and include parental views through meaningful consultation. Parents are best placed to convey their opinions about what should and should not be taught, this must take into account the faith and values of parents and children. If a significant proportion of children are from a particular background, the school should have to tailor teaching to take into account the faith background of those pupils.

22.Do you agree that paragraph 44 of the guidance provides clear advice on how
headteachers in the exceptional circumstances will want to take the child’s SEND
into account when making this decision?

– strongly agree
– agree
– neither agree or disagree
– disagree
– strongly disagree

‘SEND’ stands for ‘Special Education Needs and Disability’ and paragraph 44 relates to
the parents right to request withdrawal of their children from sex education:
For the vast majority of pupils with SEND, including those with education, health
and care plans, their SEND should not be a consideration for the head teacher in
deciding whether to grant a parental request, however there may be exceptional
circumstances where the head teacher will want to take a pupil’s SEND into
account when making this decision. The approach outlined above should be
reflected in the school’s policy on RSE.

Whether a child has Special Educational Needs or a disability, parents, and not the headteacher, are best placed to decide whether a child should be withdrawn from RSE of not.

Why should SEN or Disability have any bearing on whether a head teacher should be allowed to veto a parent’s decision to withdraw?

24. Do you have any further views on the draft statutory guidance that you would like to share with the department? Do you think that the expectations of schools are clear?

Please include this information in the text box below.

Use this space as an opportunity to re-iterate your main concerns or add anything you have not mentioned previously.

25.Do you agree that more is required on financial education for post-16 pupils?

Please answer as you see fit.

26. The department believes that primary schools should be able to access appropriate resources and training in order to teach effectively. Do you agree that the resources and support currently available to primary schools will be sufficient to enable them to teach the new subjects?

The training and resources should be decided in partnership with parents so that programmes are culturally sensitive.

27. The department believes that secondary schools should be able to access appropriate resources and training in order to teach effectively. Do you agree that the resources and support currently available to secondary schools will be sufficient to enable them to teach the new subjects?

The training and resources should be decided in partnership with parents so that programmes are culturally sensitive.

28. Do you agree that the draft regulations clearly set out the requirements on schools to teach the new subjects of Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education?

The three subjects plus SRE in primary schools have to be better defined than they currently are.

29. We are required to set out in the regulations the circumstances in which a pupil (or a pupil below a specified age) is to be excused from receiving RSE or specified elements of it. The draft regulations provide that parents have a right to request that their child be withdrawn from sex education in RSE and that this request should be granted unless, or to the extent that the headteacher considers that it should not be. Taking into account the advice to schools on how headteachers should take this decision, in paragraphs 41-46 of the guidance, do you agree that this is an appropriate and workable option?

No, it will create greater conflict between the head teacher and parents, especially if head teachers refuse the request to withdraw. The right to withdrawal should be reinstated and not diluted and replaced with an unworkable alternative which will create conflict between schools and parents.

30. Do you have any other views on the draft regulations that you would like to share with the department? Please include this information in the text box below.

Please include any other comments on the draft guidance.

31. Tables (6-8) in section F of the draft assessment set out the assumptions we have made in estimating the cost burden for schools to implement the new requirements. Do you agree with our assumptions and the estimated additional costs to schools?

Please answer as you see fit.

32. Are there any other cost burdens on schools, which you believe should be included in the regulatory impact assessment?

Please answer as you see fit.

Other organisations have also provided guidance on answering the consultation questions:

SPUC Briefing on Consultation (SPUC)

Family Education Trust Briefing on Consultation(Family Education Trust)

 


February 2018

Sex and Relationship Education: Last Chance to Make a Difference

After years of assurances that it would not make the teaching of SRE statutory, the government has capitulated to Stonewall, and other likeminded groups. Sneaking it through the latest stage possible in the Children and Social Work bill in March last year — which achieved royal assent (became an Act of Parliament) in April — they have made Sex and Relationship Education into a statutory subject in all schools.

It is very important to emphasise that the changes to SRE, outlined below, apply to all schools. That is, state schools, faith schools, academies as well as independent schools.

In all Secondary schools RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) will be made statutory, including faith and independent schools. The right to withdraw will remain but the government is re-writing what was once the parental right to withdraw, to take into account the consent of children. It is unclear how this will work in practice and whether children of a particular age will have the right to consent or not, over and above parental wishes.  Nonetheless what we have heard so far suggests the parental right to withdraw will likely change.

All Primary schools will introduce a new subject, Relationships Education (RE). The concern is that there will be no right to withdraw, unless a school decides to teach SRE outside of an RE lesson.  Taking the sex out of SRE is meant to allay parental fears. A name change cannot assuage concerns that schools will sneak ideologically-motivated elements concerning sex and sexuality into RE just as some include sexual content into statutory science to bypass the parental right to withdraw. It is also clear that the very same justifications for making the subject statutory – the proliferation of porn and sexting as a phenomenon – will be the excuses for introducing greater sexual content into the minds of pre-pubescent children.

Read more at Islam21c.com (external link)


Consultation Guidance Documents


SRE Events

 Attend one of the events below in order to find out about the changes taking place and advice and guidance on how to respond to the consultation.

Friday 2nd February
After Isha 8pm

Kingston
Kingston Mosque, 55 East Rd, Kingston Upon Thames KT2 6EJ


Saturday 3rd February

Bolton
1:30-3PM
The Crescent Banqueting Hall
Lever Street
BL3 6BT
In association with Bolton Council of Mosques


Battersea
After Asar, 2:30pm
An-Najashi Centre, 283-291 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2ND


Sunday 4th February
Birmingham
after Maghrib
Masjid al-Falaah, 32 Trinity Road, Birmingham B6 6AL


Monday 5th February
Tower Hamlets
After Isha, 7:15pm (Isha),
East London Mosque
First Floor, London Muslim Centre
In association with Tower Hamlets Council of Mosques


Tuesday 6th February
Luton
After Isha, 7:15pm
Madina Masjid, 126-130 Oak Rd, Bury Park, Luton, LU4 8AD
In association with Luton Council of Mosques


Wednesday 7th February
Newham
After Isha (7:30pm)
Masjid Ibrahim, 721-723 Barking Rd, E13 9EL


Thursday 8th February
Walthamstow
Doors open 7:30pm
The Pavilion, 324 Hoe St, Walthamstow, London E17 9PX
In association with Waltham Forest Council of Mosques


Saturday 10th February
Redbridge

After Isha, 7pm
Seven Kings Mosque
645 High Rd, Ilford IG3 8RG